Three years ago, I would never have considered asking my server at a restaurant if I could pray for him or her. Even though I was a Christian and prayed regularly, I lacked awareness of how to pray in the moment – especially for others. I also lacked courage. I would have been so concerned with what others thought that I would not have been able to step outside of my comfort zone and pray ALOUD(!) for a stranger. My focus would have been turned inward on me – my fears, my insecurities, my…SELF.

Today, I was with a dear friend for breakfast, and our server – a young woman – was very honest with us about her morning. She was facing some tough challenges. My friend asked this sweet woman if we could pray for her. That did not surprise me – my friend is a prayer warrior. What surprised me was my reaction to our server. If my friend had not asked if we could pray for her, I knew in my heart that I would have. How did that happen?! Lord, really…how did that happen?!

I have known that the Thistlebend Bible Studies I have been a part of have been life changing. I know that my heart is changing – every study, I feel the Lord molding and shaping my heart and transforming my thoughts. But I saw tangible evidence today, as the Lord allowed me to care for a complete stranger. I realized my fear of man and being judged had significantly lessened. The Lord opened my eyes to the needs of someone else and, by His grace, my eyes stayed on her. I did not turn my gaze inward.

Yesterday, our daily homework included reading a passage of Daniel. In Daniel 6 we read how Daniel’s enemies devised a plot against him: they persuaded the king to pass a decree saying prayers could only be offered to the king. Those who were disobedient would face the lion’s den. Daniel ignored the decree, because he knew the one true God. He prayed to God three times a day. Not even the threat of death could keep Daniel from communing with his Lord. As we know from Scripture, Daniel was caught breaking the decree and was indeed thrown into the lion’s den. The Lord himself saved Daniel.

I thought about Daniel as I left the restaurant today, and thanked the Lord for His Word, and for examples such as Daniel – he was fearless in his love and devotion to God. I thanked God for Thistlebend, for the studies that have helped my faith and prayer life grow and strengthen. And I thanked God for allowing my friend and me to sit at a certain server’s table so that we could pray for her in the moment, encourage her, and remind her how the Lord loves her. What a precious gift we have, to be able to approach our Heavenly Father in prayer – for anyone, at anytime.

Growing in Grace


As I go through Heart of a Woman so far I’ve been faced with many questions that I honestly don’t want to answer. Asking God to search my heart, but not only to search my heart, but to try it too—that’s extremely difficult for me. I love order. I love everything to be “perfectly” in its place, and I don’t mean just when I’m in the mood to clean; I mean things perfectly in their place all the time. This goes for big things–like my schedule being laid out ahead of time each week in my organized planner and for the week to go exactly how I expected and having each to-do item crossed off the list–to the small things like making sure that the picture frame is in the right place on the book shelf or the lotion is put back in the proper drawer before heading out the door for work. For me to honestly ask the Lord to try me means that things will probably be shaken up in my life, things will be out of my control, expectations will not be met; and let’s be real, those things happen all the time anyway because I’m not in control, but to ask for it to happen? That’s just crazy! But I tell ya what, as much as I like my life in order, I also like and feel the need to follow the rules; so I’ve been asking the Lord to search my heart over the past few weeks. I’ve been asking Him to try me and He’s been answering me. That’s why I’ve been faced with many questions that I don’t want to answer. Even though it’s really hard, I’m really thankful that the Lord has allowed me to see Him at work.

As I’ve gone through the study so far I think the main question I’m faced with everyday as I read Scripture is, “Do you really believe this?” It’s super easy for me to say yes of course I believe what the Bible says, but then the next question comes, “If you believe this, why don’t you act according to this throughout the day?” Take for example Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Or Psalm 66:1-4: “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.’” When I’m at work, a place I really don’t like to be, you won’t typically find me singing praises to my Great God proclaiming His awesome deeds. And when the Lord opens my eyes and convicts me of a sin that He’s convicted me of so many times before and I STILL can’t do what I know I’m supposed to do, you won’t typically find me not feeling condemned for it. The question becomes: why, what’s the root of this? Because the truth says that there is now no condemnation and the truth says that awesome are all of God’s deeds, that He deserves and is worthy of glorious praise.

Coming soon, Lord willing, there will be a sweet new baby in my household. With this comes many new experiences—emotional changes, sickness, discomfort, weight gain, LIFE growing inside of me. I’ve got to be honest, I haven’t done well with all of these changes. I am so thankful for this sweet little one growing inside of me, but that’s not typically what you hear coming out of my mouth or what you would find if you were in my brain for a few hours. You either hear complaining about how uncomfortable I am with something, how I’m so nauseous, you may not hear anything because I’m asleep at 7:00 in the evening, or you could hear crying because clothes aren’t fitting like they used to. It’s not pretty. What happened to the truths I read in Scripture about rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances? That’s what I’ve been asking myself as well.

I know the truth. I know that feelings cannot be a barometer on what is true or to tell me what I believe, but how I respond can be a barometer. This whole study is meant to teach us about what it means to live with the new heart that God has so graciously given us when our eyes are opened to see the reality of our need for a Savior in Jesus. Praise God that I really do want to live from that new heart and not the old sinner heart.

A few weeks ago I found myself writing to the Lord, confessing to the Lord, “If I choose the holy decision of truth no one may know anything is ever wrong with me because I could always rejoice.” Even in the midst of sorrow, I could have hope. “Would people care then? Would they pay attention? Would they know?” This prompted the question, yet another one that I did not (and I guess do not) want to answer, “Do I believe that you, God, will care for me and that you will be enough if no one else ever cared?” I was seeing then that I was caring more about how others would respond to my feeble feelings versus the truth of God caring for me.

I honestly, at the time didn’t do much with this question. I knew it was deeper than I really cared to go at the time, but the Lord thankfully wouldn’t let up with it. A week or so ago I tried on clothes that no longer looked the same on me. I felt huge. I felt ugly. I felt unworthy. I felt like I was going to cry, but also knew how stupid that was and didn’t want my husband to know that I am really that vain, so I held in the tears. He knew something was wrong, but I wouldn’t tell him because I was embarrassed to say. Later someone else asked me how I was doing with all the hormonal changes and yep, it happened, I broke down, sobbed in the middle of a basketball gym in front of more strangers than I care to remember. As I had to confess to my husband after that incident the reality of me being sad because I felt ugly and the guilt that followed that because I want my baby to matter way more than how I look, the Lord continued to prod about where my identity lies and through that, the question returned, do I really believe that God would care for me and love me even if no one else ever paid attention to me?

Not only was I trying to hide and fix the reality of this sin from my husband, but I was also trying to really hide it from the Lord. I know my identity should be in Him. He’s taught me that many times before and to have my identity in my looks of all things, well that is just the #1 thing that must go. Finding identity in your husband or your family, okay that sin at least makes some sense, but in your looks? Yea that’s just silly—or what I thought anyway. So instead of bringing this all to the cross at Jesus’ feet I’ve generalized my confessions and then have just tried to fix this sin in my own strength and that means just not thinking about it or letting myself go there. The Lord is truly so patient. I read in week 3 of Heart of Woman, “Confession is an amazing and abundant provision from the Lord. He has provided a way for us, a way where there would be no way. We are so often afraid to admit our sinful ways even when our Lord stands right before us with the cure. God’s abundant blessings are available to us and freedom and joy are right around the corner, but we are reluctant. We are deceived. We have tasted the way of sin and it satisfies.”

The Lord began to soften my heart and to remind me that He already knows all of my sin, there’s nowhere I can go from His presence. When looking at my sin I was trying and failing to “fix” it. But through the lens of the Lord already knowing the sin, waiting for me to just come, it just seemed dumb to not bring the reality of where my identity lies to Him. The Lord gave me grace to confess this: “Lord my identity is not in you. My identity is mainly in how I look or how I feel I look and my other circumstances. I’m not trusting in who you say that I am. My days are based off emotion, not truth. Really, if my makeup looks good or if I look pretty in a photo. Or do I feel bloated today? Lord, I really hate confessing this reality but I know you already know. And I know that Jesus has overcome this darkness in me. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending Him for me, thank you that you look at Him instead of me. Thank you that you’ve brought me face to face with this. Father, as I go throughout today will you give me your eyes to see beauty the way you do? The beauty that you bring from ashes. Will you help me see myself as you see me? Help me see this world as you see it, to live in your kingdom of light.”

I’d love to tell you right now that at that moment the skies opened and the desire to find identity in my looks was completely removed because my flesh would still love to have it all together and do this whole thing “right.” I’m slowly being taught, though, that this life is not about me getting it right, it’s actually not about me at all, it’s all about Jesus and His glory. I know that I will still struggle with this, but I’m thankful that the Lord through this study has allowed me to see it for what it is. I know it goes even deeper than this really, but He’s opening my eyes more to the reality of my sinful nature that is utterly depraved without Him and opening my eyes more to the fact that He really does care. And the more He gives me grace to cling to that truth through the trying that He brings, the more He can be glorified.

The trying will be hard, the confessing will be hard, but all is for HIS GLORY and I pray we are all excited about that!

Planted for His Glory















This week while going through the study Heart of a Woman I found my flesh resisting prayer at every turn. But as the week went on I dove more into the prayer lives of great men who worshiped the same God. How eloquently did they display their affection for God through prayer? I found myself reading a love letter to my Heavenly Father through their prayers and I felt like I was taken back to what they must have felt in that moment. Nothing could hold them back from crying out to their Lord. They were men possessed with his unwavering love. Daniel continued to pray even though he could be thrown in the Lion’s Den. Nothing stopped him from praying to our God.

Their belief that he could answer every prayer was astonishing. How often do I think to myself that God isn’t listening to me? Why would he answer my prayer? While learning about the prayer lives of those before me, it made me realize how much I have let my flesh control my beliefs. God is unwavering is His power. He created the heavens and earth, how could He be unable to answer my prayers? Of course he can! I just need to put my faith and trust fully in the fact that God can do anything. He is LORD!

With tournaments and March Madness coming up I found myself buying a T-shirt for the occasion to root for my Kentucky Wildcats! The T-shirt says, “Proper Manners Raising Banners.” At first I didn’t associate raising banners with my prayer life, but when I entered Church Saturday evening I was struck with the comparison. We were singing, “Never Gonna Stop Singing” and the lyric, “We’re gonna lift You higher, higher” made me think about that shirt and how by praying and worshiping Him we are lifting the banner in His name. What an interesting comparison the Lord gave me. By having our banner raised for Him we are showing our devotion to Him and declaring that through Him we can always win! Our prayers will be answered, if only we trust in our Lord and believe He can conquer all. He is always the winner and His banner should always be raised!

Showered in His Love